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Colorado Plateau

News & Recent Publications

Monday, August 11, 2014

Re–Os geochronology and Os isotope fingerprinting of petroleum sourced from a Type I lacustrine kerogen

Insights from the natural Green River petroleum system in the Uinta Basin and hydrous pyrolysis experiments

Outside Publication: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Rhenium–osmium (Re–Os) geochronology of marine petroleum systems has allowed the determination of the depositional age of source rocks as well as the timing of petroleum generation. In addition, Os isotopes have been applied as a fingerprinting tool to correlate oil to its source unit. To date, only classic marine petroleum systems have been studied...

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spatial and Stratigraphic Distribution of Water in Oil Shale of the Green River Formation Using Fischer Assay

Piceance Basin, Northwestern Colorado

USGS Publication: Open-File Report 2014–1059
The spatial and stratigraphic distribution of water in oil shale of the Eocene Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin of northwestern Colorado was studied in detail using some 321,000 Fischer assay analyses in the U.S. Geological Survey oil-shale database. The oil-shale section was subdivided into 17 roughly time-stratigraphic intervals, and the distribution of water in each interval was assessed separately. 

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Coal Fields of the Conterminous United States

National Coal Resource Assessment Updated Version

USGS Publication: Open-File Report 2012–1205
This map sheet with accompanying Geographic Information System (GIS) project is an update of the existing U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Conterminous U.S. Coal Fields map. This update was compiled using data primarily from the USGS National Coal Resource Assessment (NCRA) and information from other published maps.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Geophysical and Lithologic Well Logs in the Piceance Basin

Website News
2,263 scanned logs of various types including gamma ray, sonic, neutron, caliper, and lithologic descriptions are available for 621 different wells in the Piceance Basin of western Colorado. Logged intervals generally focus on the Green River Formation which contains large amounts of oil shale in this area. Image quality varies considerably with the condition of the starting material. Files are PDFs or TIFFs and file size ranges up to 560 megabytes with and an average size of 33 megabytes. This page contains data downloads for Piceance Basin, 2010 Oil Shale Assesment, compiled from DDS-69-Y.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Database of the United States Coal Pellet Collection of the U.S. Geological Survey Organic Petrology Laboratory

USGS Publication: Open-File Report 2012–1151
The Organic Petrology Laboratory (OPL) of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Eastern Energy Resources Science Center in Reston, Virginia, contains several thousand processed coal sample materials that were loosely organized in laboratory drawers for the past several decades. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Isopach and Isoresource Maps for Oil Shale Deposits in the Eocene Green River Formation

Includes the Combined Uinta and Piceance Basins, Utah and Colorado

USGS Publication: Scientific Investigations Report 2012–5076
The in-place oil shale resources in the Eocene Green River Formation of the Piceance Basin of western Colorado and the Uinta Basin of western Colorado and eastern Utah are estimated at 1.53 trillion barrels and 1.32 trillion barrels, respectively. Although the Green River Formation is largely eroded for about a 20-mile area along the crest of the arch, the oil shale interval is similar in both basins, and 17 out of 18 of the assessed oil shale zones are common to both basins. Assessment maps for these 17 zones are combined so that the overall distribution of oil shale over the entire extent of Lake Uinta can be studied.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Systematic Geologic Mapping Program and a Quadrangle-by-Quadrangle Analysis of Time-Stratigraphic Relations within Oil Shale-Bearing Rocks of the Piceance Basin, Western Colorado

USGS Publication: Scientific Investigations Report 2012–5041
During the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, the U.S. Geological Survey mapped the entire area underlain by oil shale of the Eocene Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin of western Colorado. This report places the sixty-nine 7½-minute geologic quadrangle maps and one 15-minute quadrangle map published during this period into a comprehensive time-stratigraphic framework based on the alternating rich and lean oil shale zones.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Assessing Effects of Energy Development in Colorado and New Mexico

USGS Publication: Fact Sheet 2011–3053
Increased demand for energy is driving rapid development of oil and gas, uranium, geothermal, wind, and solar sources of energy throughout the Western United States. By collaborating with decisonmakers to identify the most pressing information needs, an interdisciplinary team of USGS scientists is developing a multistep analytical process, or framework, for evaluating the cumulative effects and tradeoffs of energy development. The framework for analysis of the various energy types, spatial information, and analytical tools will be synthesized for end users in the form of an online Interactive Energy Atlas for Colorado and New Mexico.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Oil Shale and Nahcolite Resources, Piceance Basin

USGS Publication: Digital Data Series 69-Y
This report presents an in-place assessment of the oil shale and nahcolite resources of the Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin of western Colorado. Estimated in-place oil is about 1.5 trillion barrels, based on Fischer a ssay results from boreholes drilled to evaluate oil shale, making it the largest oil shale deposit in the world. The estimated in-place nahcolite resource is about 43.3 billion short tons.



The Colorado Plateau is a large physiographic region, roughly centered on the Four Corners Region of the southwestern United States. This website provides an overview of the various studies the USGS Energy Resources Program has conducted in this area:

  • Oil and Gas Assessments of the Uinta-Piceance Basin, Paradox Basin, San Juan Basin and Northern Arizona Basin
  • Oil Shale Assessments of the Uinta and Piceance Basins
  • Coal Studies of several different areas including: Danforth Hills, Kaiparowits Plateau, Lower White River, Piceance Basin, San Juan Basin, Wasatch Plateau and Yampa Coal Field
  • Uranium Resource and Impact studies
  • Geothermal Potential


National Oil and Gas Assessments: Colorado Plateau Focus Area
National Oil and Gas

National Oil and Gas Assessments

The USGS has completed several assessments of the Colorado Plateau:

Uinta Piceance Basin
Paradox Basin
San Juan Basin

National Coal Resource Assessment: Colorado Plateau Focus area
National Coal Resource

National Coal Resource Assessment

The National Coal Resource Assessment (NCRA) project was a multi-year effort by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Energy Program to identify, characterize, and assess the coal resources that will supply a major part of the Nation’s energy needs during the next few decades. NCRA data and publications are available on the NCRA Colorado Plateau page.

Coalbed Methane Assessment: Colorado Plateau Focus Area
Coalbed Methane Assessment

Coalbed Methane Assessment

Coalbed methane assessments for the Colorado Plateau are currently available for the following basins:

Uinta Piceance Basin
San Juan Basin



Page Last Modified: Friday, January 10, 2014


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